Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Catching up

This year has been a real bugger, and it's just getting started! In January I finally got my morphine pump replaced. What was supposed to be a simple 20 minute procedure turned into a two hour nightmare! When they opened me up, they found that the catheter which carries the morphine from the pump to the spinal canal had ruptured. It was also clogged and nothing would go through it. Now it couldn't be removed because it would leave a hold in the spinal canal which would leak spinal fluid, so it had to be sealed. Then a new catheter had to be run from the pump, which is in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen, under the skin (and through layers of fat) around to the spine. Then another incision had to be made to insert the catheter into the spinal canal. The doctor said he has never seen such a screwed up back. There is so much arthritic growth and scar tissue that he had a devil of a time getting the catheter through.

As a result of the rupture, there was no way to know how much morphine was actually needed to control the pain, since it was being absorbed through the gut instead of going directly to the spinal cord. So, the doctor decided not to put any morphine in the pump for the first few days (from Thursday to Monday) and just run saline through. Well of course this put me into withdrawal. That is the worst experience anyone could have. Having been there before, I knew what to expect, but it didn't help any. The cold shakes are really bad. You just can't get warm! My teeth were chattering so much Judy was scared I would break some! I turned my electric blanket all the way up to 10 and piled on the covers. It is now three weeks later and they still don't have the level up high enough to kill the pain. Every time I stand for more than 10 minutes I go into spasms and have to sit down. On top of that, for some reason the trigger points in my upper left back have started to act up and cause horrific pain in the back and down my left arm. I have had injections, acupuncture and some new procedure the Chiropractor uses, all to no avail so far, so I am also having to take oxycodone to dull the pain. Nothing kills it.

Meanwhile I had to take three weeks leave of absence from the Temple and yesterday we started rehearsals for our next play, House Ghost, to be produced in March. Speaking of which I have to leave for a meeting of the Artistic Committee now. More later.